People Profile: Russell Lamb

We often like to talk about MiX people, and we thought that there is no better person to kick off 2021 with than MiX MD, Russell Lamb.

Russell is a founding director of MiX, and with over 35 years in the industry, Russell has led projects for many of our clients, including the likes of Conde Nast, Derwent London, Havas, Kingsley Napley, Mizuho, National Australia Bank, Ninety One, SMBC, WaterAid and Which?

You have had an interesting career and route into the IT industry, which at one point involved tanks! Tell us about it.

I started my working career in what I think was the golden era for IT when PC’s were standalone devices, Windows was yet to be invented, and the only devices that had a GUI interface, that we take for granted today, were Apple Mac’s.

From leaving school, I started out working for the Ministry of Defence working for a procurement branch procuring parts for the Chieftain Tank and subsequently the Challenger Tank. Although working with tanks was any ‘boy’s dream,’ having been introduced to the tank’s computer systems, my interest was peaked, and I realised that I wanted to get more involved in technology.

I left the MOD and joined a small start-up IT company manufacturing their own computer systems, initially as a buyer and later an installation engineer. After a great few years, the fortunes of the IT company were a bit ‘up & down,’ and eventually it went bust. However, what I had learned during my time there has proved to be invaluable and set me on the right track.

Jobs in IT during this period were ‘few and far between’ and therefore, I took up a position as a ‘buyer’ for a large shipping company procuring engine spares for UK coastal oil tankers. Although this job was a far cry from IT, I had a lot of fun while I was there and met some real characters both on land and at sea.

An opportunity presented itself to work for a large accountancy firm procuring IT systems and software. Shortly after I joined the firm, it merged with another large accountancy firm making Ernst & Young, one of the ‘big 5’. During the merger, a lot of the IT staff left, which presented me with an opportunity to move into the Network Team. Following years of training and hands on experience installing Apple Mac and PC networks, enterprise servers, etc. I worked my way up to head the network and enterprise systems group for EY in the UK.

Whilst I was at EY, one of the projects I worked on was their new HQ building in London. Whilst working on this project, I worked alongside an IT consultancy called CBI, taken on to help EY project manage, design, and oversee the implementation of the IT systems into the new building. The design of building IT systems was something that particularly interested me, and following the completion of the building projects for EY, I left and joined CBI.

During my time at CBI, I worked on some large and exciting projects for a diverse range of clients in many different industries. In some cases, I acted as the principal project director, and on other projects, I was the network designer, and in some instances, I did both! During my time at the IT consultancy, I worked with some talented individuals who were passionate about what they did and were consummate professionals. It was with some of these guys that I left the IT consultancy to set up a new IT consultancy, MiX Consultancy Ltd. The rest, they say, is history!

We can’t begin to talk about 2021 without reflecting on 2020. What strategy did the MiX leadership adopt?

Our priority throughout the year was staff retention. It was a tough year for everyone, but we were able to keep the team as it is and continued to deliver projects to the highest standards. As directors, we are incredibly grateful for the hard work and support of the MiX team, who have carried on doing what they do best during this difficult time. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we can’t do it without them.

You mentioned the delivery of projects over the last year. What were some of the key highlights?

We were fortunate enough to deliver some great projects over the last year, and a few stand out. We were engaged on Freshfield’s 320,000 ft2 relocation project to 100 Bishopsgate and it is great to see the final result after working on it for so long. Nationwide’s technology hub in Holborn was another great project with some interesting technologies incorporated into the design. Ninety One’s (previously Investec Asset Management) new London headquarters in Gresham Street was completed in the midst of the global pandemic and a company demerger – but the end result is spectacular. A few other key projects to mention are those for SMBC, Royal Bank of Canada, Cinven and Kingsley Napley.

What are the challenges and opportunities facing the technology industry?

The pandemic has accelerated the trend of flexible/remote working. Some of our clients were already working this way, but for some, it was a brand new concept. The challenge is now to work closely with our clients on their journey ahead – changing office design to incorporate more collaborative spaces and the development of proper technology solutions for remote working.

In particular, we believe that from a technology point of view, meeting room design will change considerably to incorporate several platforms instead of just one as is currently the norm. From a physical security point of view, we have seen an increase in interest surrounding touchless technologies – again, another trend that has been accelerated by the global pandemic.

What lies ahead for MiX this year.

As always, our priority remains our team, and as directors, we will do whatever is possible to keep investing in and supporting their career aspirations.

From a client point of view, we believe that now more than ever, developing bespoke solutions will be key. For example, SMART technologies have been around for some time now, but our clients are all at different stages of that journey, and we are working with them to make sure the solution they adopt will provide the best outcome for their business needs.

Mostly we are looking forward to a time when we can all get together again and have a pint in the local pub!